The issue of gun violence is an unfortunate reality that a lot of high school students have to consider nowadays. Some of them had a chance to talk to local leaders and community activists on Tuesday at a roundtable discussion at Hoover High School.
During the candid round meeting, the students, as well as advocates working to reduce gun violence across San Diego County, spoke with local congressional Rep. Sara Jacobs and Rep. Joe Negues of Boulder, Colorado. The discussions touched on gun violence issues in San Diego, including suicides, domestic violence and gang violence.
"Our community and our school is very desensitized because it just feels like another gun violence [incident], and it feels like there's not really support for those students and the students that are suffering," student Kimberly De Alva said.
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De Alva is a senior at Hoover High school who brought up issues she deals with at her school and neighborhood, problems that were personal for some of the speakers on Tuesday.
"So, I got shot a couple blocks down the street from here, so I'm really passionate about helping to bring healing to the community," said Jesus Sandoval, who is a pastor and part of the City San Diego Commission Gang Prevention and Intervention unit.
Sandoval was 16 years old when he was injured during a gang shooting near his former high school. He shared how he managed to escape gun violence, he also described how those around him back at the time have since ended up either incarcerated or killed.
"We're trying to look for solution, for more awareness, education so that folks on the top can make rules, change some laws from those on the grassroots," Sandoval said.
Some students and community leaders want to help bridge the gap between mental health and gun violence and suggested the need for more funding for survivor empowerment groups, as well as looking into root causes and offering help to young people dealing with mental health issues who are struggling to gain access to resources due to barriers that include a lack of insurance.
One student brought up the topic of gun restriction laws for the public and for law enforcement.
"Right now, there has been very low trust in the police, and so if people want to have stricter gun-violence restrictions, people are going to question, 'How about the police as well?'," Hoover High senior Solange Uwimana said.
The students and activists hope the leaders they met with Tuesday will help bring resources, funding and, possibly bring about legislative change as well.